Film (1955). Paramount. Produced by George Pal, directed by Byron Haskin. Written by James O'Hanlon and others including Barré Lyndon (see Alfred Edgar); based remotely on Das Marsprojekt (1952 Weltraumfahrt; 1952; trans Henry J White as The Mars Project 1953) by Wernher von Braun. Cast includes Walter Brooke, Eric Fleming, Ross Martin and Mickey Shaughnessy. 80 minutes. Colour.
The title of this film is taken from the popular-science book The Conquest of Space (1949) by Chesley Bonestell and Willy Ley. Though supposedly based on a work of science fact by Wernher von Braun, the story, set in the 1980s, of a military research expedition to Mars and back is riddled with implausibilities, both scientific (an Asteroid burning in the vacuum of space) and human (the commander, regarded as the only person capable of sustaining the mission, becomes a twitching religious fanatic – at one point uttering the celebrated line: "There are some things that Man is not meant to do"). There is a strange but irrelevant Oedipal conflict, ending with the son killing his father, the commander, when the latter tries to sabotage the ship. The special effects are quite ambitious but clumsily executed, in particular the matte work. A truly awful film, Conquest of Space is probably Pal's worst production; it was his last for Paramount. [JB/PN]
see also: Space Stations.
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